SAN DIEGO -- A former Yuma police officer was sentenced to 20 years in state prison Friday for raping and sexually assaulting a 23-year-old Kensington woman related to him by marriage during a family get-together in San Diego.
Jared Elkins, 35, was convicted by a jury last December of one count each of forcible rape and sexual penetration by force and two counts of oral copulation by force. He was acquitted of rape, oral copulation and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.
Prosecutors said Elkins, who had known the family for years, entered the woman's bedroom on Sept. 15, 2017 and forced himself upon her, threatening to kill her if she screamed. Deputy District Attorney Lisa Fox said that afterwards, the victim waited until she thought Elkins was asleep in another room, then woke up her mother and the two jumped out a window and ran off, with the mother calling 911.
Elkins said he was awakened the next morning by a call from the San Diego Police Department, telling him to come outside, where he was arrested.
He later resigned from the Yuma Police Department.
Elkins testified that the sex was consensual and that the victim came on to him by cuddling on the sofa as they watched a movie. Defense attorney Ellis "Trip" Johnston told the jury that the victim, knowing that she had just slept with the husband of a relative, feared the consequences.
The victim, her family members, and another woman who alleged Elkins tried to sexually assault her in Arizona months after his initial arrest, told the court that they live in fear of retaliation from the tight-knit community of Yuma, particularly among members of law enforcement and their supporters.
The victim said the attack transformed her from an outgoing, adventurous person to one constantly afraid of being alone or leaving home, and routinely plagued by nightmares.
She said that the trial was like reliving the attack all over again, all while also weathering accusations of lying from strangers.
"While he spent well over a year-and-a-half innocent until proven guilty, I hid indoors guilty until proven innocent," she said.
The victim's mother, Kelly, reproached Elkins for his "selfish and disgusting behavior," which she said required the longest sentence possible in order to safeguard her daughter.
"This will be over the day that he stops breathing," she said. "One day, he will be released from prison and once again, she will have to look over her shoulder. The only reprieve she has is the time he serves behind bars."
The victim's father, Robert, said "I don't believe the man has integrity or honor...I don't think he has any regret."
As a former colonel in the military, he said it was even harder to accept Elkins' crimes because "I know what it's like to take an oath, an oath to protect and to serve...And that's why when this happened to my family, not only was it hurtful that this crime would be committed against my family, it was also hard for me because I knew he had taken an oath as well, an oath as a peace officer to protect and to serve. And he violated that oath, he violated that trust."
A Yuma woman testified that Elkins tried to force anal sex on her after a night out last March in their hometown, while he was out of custody on bail.
She called the San Diego County District Attorney's Office after seeing the San Diego case on television "because it was the right thing to do," she said during Friday's sentencing. Elkins is not currently facing any charges in Arizona.
The Yuma woman, a retired military member, said she also has received threats.
"I felt safer flying military missions in the middle east over Iraq and Afghanistan than I do in my own hometown," she said Friday.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Charles G. Rogers said he elected to impose consecutive, rather than concurrent sentences for the four convicted counts because it was important to send a message "to the men and young men in our society that they don't have a license to do whatever they want, sexually speaking," and that "however commendable a person's character may be in other respects, however much that person may have served society, even at risk of life and limb, those things are not a free pass."